Keep Your Vehicle Driving Smoothly and Safely with New Shocks & Struts
Shock absorbers and struts in a vehicle, which control bouncing and are crucial to a balanced suspension system, contribute to a smooth ride in addition to helping with the overall safety and handling of the car, truck, or SUV. Common symptoms of worn out shocks or struts are exaggerated rocking when the vehicle goes over bumps, or swaying in the body of the car. However, whether or not a driver has noticed more bouncing than usual, shocks and struts should be checked regularly on all vehicles.
Why Should Shocks & Struts be Replaced?
The primary purpose of shocks and struts is, basically, to keep the tires of the vehicle in contact with the road as much as possible and prevent swaying in the body of the car. They control up-and-down bouncing as well as excessive side-to-side rocking. Not only does this make for a smoother ride for passengers, but it also enables the vehicle to be driven more safely: turns, bumps, and rough roads are easier to handle with a solidly moving car or truck.
When shocks and struts are worn, the vehicle becomes more difficult to navigate on curves and bumps; riding in the vehicle becomes rough and unpleasant; and the tires of the vehicle wear out faster. Having these parts replaced takes several hours, but is a repair well worth the investment.
When to Replace Shocks
Struts and shocks tend to deteriorate slowly enough that the driver of a vehicle may not notice their car is gradually becoming looser and less stable. Thus, the general rule of thumb is to have shocks and struts closely inspected every 50,000 miles. Drivers are often surprised at the difference after their shocks or struts are replaced.
A mechanic will be able to recommend when to replace struts and shocks based on a visual inspection of tire wear, fluid leaks, and the parts themselves. These parts should always be replaced in pairs (both of the front, or both of the rear), or all at once.
To get a general idea of whether the shocks or struts are worn, a “bounce test” can be performed on each tire by externally pushing down on a corner of the car and then releasing. If the car bounces up and down instead of simply snapping back up into its original position, it’s time to get a professional opinion.
The Difference between Shocks and Struts
Contrary to what their name implies, shock absorbers don’t actually absorb the shock of the vehicle – rather, a spring absorbs the impact of tires on the road, and the shocks then keep the motion of the spring under control so that they (and the car) don’t bounce all over the place.
Informally, mechanics often use the terms “shocks” and “struts” interchangeably because they serve the same purpose. However, when it comes to installation, the parts are not interchangeable; shocks cannot replace struts, or vice versa.
All cars, trucks and SUVs have either a shock or a strut on each tire. Many vehicles have shocks on the rear tires and struts on the front, while some have struts on all four tires. Physically, shock absorbers and struts differ considerably. The design of each vehicle model’s suspension system determines whether struts or shocks are used to dampen bouncing.
A shock absorber is a tube filled with oil and a piston, which work together to resist the excess bouncing from a coil spring. Struts, on the other hand, are a little more involved, and contain several parts of the suspension system in one piece, including a coil spring, a shock absorber, spring seat, and mount.
What does Shock and Strut Replacement Involve?
Replacing the shocks or struts on a vehicle generally takes several hours. They should always be replaced either all at once or two at a time: the front pair together, and the back pair together.
Shock absorbers are straightforward and fairly easy to replace, requiring no special tools. They are often less expensive to replace than struts because of this. The old shock is simply removed and a new one installed in its place.
Strut replacement, on the other hand, involves spring compressor tools and a great deal of caution. When a strut is replaced, the vehicle is equipped with a new strut housing, spring seat, and the shock absorber (also called a strut cartridge) contained within the piece.
Alternatively, for some vehicles, simply replacing the strut cartridge is an option. This can save money on parts, because only a part of the strut is replaced, but the labor can be pricier because for this repair, the technician must disassemble and reassemble the original strut.
Finally, replacement of the complete strut assembly is possible, and has the advantage of requiring no spring-compressor tools. This equips the car with new strut housings, strut cartridges, coil springs, and upper mounts.
If you are in Nashville, Brentwood, or Bellevue and need your shocks or struts replaced, Call Kwik Kar at 615-353-1475.